Manchester United are just one of the clubs to make a move – but Jack Ross hopes first-team involvement can convince Ethan Laidlaw to stay with Hibs.
The 16-year-old signed his maiden professional deal with Hibs this season and was the first player born in 2005 to feature in a Hibees squad last week when they faced Rangers during Scottish Premiership action. Manchester United are interested in his talent and have enquired about taking him on trial this year.
Leeds United have already had a look at him on a similar basis and Ross says it was nice to hand Laidlaw his chance against Rangers: “Every year in management I get further away from players in age – that’s just the reality of it! But these young players have missed out on the excitement of being a first-team player for the first time over the last year.
“There’s been times where they haven’t enjoyed that continuity in training. There was an opportunity in Ethan’s case to give him a reward by being around the squad for such an important game. It’s nice to have the opportunity to do that as a manager to help their football development.”
While Ross knows the likes of Manchester United and others linked with his prospect will prove tempting, the Hibs manager hopes senior football can convince the 16-year-old striker to stay put.
🙌 Huge congratulations to 16-year-old striker Ethan Laidlaw who is in today's matchday squad.
💚 The Hibernian Academy graduate has gone from being a ballboy at games to signing his first professional contract earlier this year.
— Hibernian Football Club (@HibernianFC) April 11, 2021
Ross said ahead of this weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth round tie with Stranraer: “I think that’s all it is at the moment, potential. I haven’t worked an awful lot with him. I haven’t seen as much of him as I normally would because of the circumstances in the last year.
“But I am aware of the attention he’s had and the interest he’s had for a period of time now. It’s our challenge to keep our best young players at the club for as long as we can. But we also understand the nature of the beast that we will also lose our players to bigger clubs at times.
“The opportunity to involved with Ethan -and he’ll be involved with the squad this weekend against Stranraer – will hopefully give him a taste of what’s to come. He’s still got a lot of development to be doing both physically and psychologically to play regular first-team football. But the opportunity to be around what we do should hopefully wet his appetite to be around Hibs longer-term.”
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